Teach & Serve II, No. 35 – Leadering: Letting Go
April 5, 2017
Leaders who are successful understand that, while they have a track record, they do not have to be defined by it. Nor do they allow themselves to be.
Over the course of the next few weeks, Teach & Serve will be discussing “leadering” activities. In essence, these are the critical steps, as I see them, that individuals take as they become leaders. These are the universal gates through which they pass. These are their shared signposts they come across.
These are the things leaders do as they go about “leadering?”
- Knowing Oneself
- Identifying Weaknesses before Celebrating Strengths
- Honing Communication Skills
- Exercising Authority Appropriately
- Achieving Balance and Blend
- Humbling Oneself
- Letting Go
I have saved the best for last… and it is, perhaps, the most obvious of all the activities I’ve written about in these last seven weeks of “Leadering” topics. Maybe not the most obvious, but certainly the progression of these activities has led to this:
Let. It. Go.
Leaders navigate waters both smooth and choppy. They encounter colleagues, students and parents at both their best and their worst. They inspire positive experiences. They are held responsible for negative ones.
Leaders have histories.
Leaders create histories.
Leaders leave histories behind them in their wake.
And leaders are human. There are moments in their histories of which they are very proud. There are moments in their histories of which they are not. There are students and colleagues they truly enjoy. There are students and colleagues they would like to never consider again. There are signposts they can point to which are very positive and there are those that are starkly negative.
They have met people and done things.
They’ve left footprints.
And the best leaders let all of that go. Leaders who are successful understand that, while they have a track record, they do not have to be defined by it. Nor do they allow themselves to be.
They do not live in their successes and they do not dwell in their failures. They do not revisit the past unless it is helpful for them to do so. They neither hold grudges nor are they swayed by their own press.
They live in the present. They work in the now. They plan for the future.
None of this can happen effectively without letting go.
Those who wish to be leaders will do well to practice letting go. A true leadering activity is allowing the past to stay in the past. Another is forgiving and actually trying to forget. A third is not prejudging a situation or a person based solely on past contacts and histories.
Leaders who find ways to let go of the past, to understand that conflict and praise are both fleeting, to look forward and not backward are leaders who inspire.
They are leaders I yearn to follow.